Parliamentary report refers to community pharmacy funding as ‘broken’ 

The Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel, evaluating Government commitments made in the area of Pharmacy in England, has been published.

Community Pharmacy England had previously submitted a full and detailed response which can be read here. In addition to this, we attended a roundtable to give oral evidence to the expert panel.

The expert panel, independent of the main committee, was established in 2020 and reviews and scrutinises Government policy on a range of areas. This will feed in to the main Committee’s current inquiry on ‘Pharmacy’, which we have also submitted evidence to.

The expert panel found that overall progress ‘requires improvement’ on a number of areas. It looked at five policy areas of Pharmacy: Community Pharmacy, Integrated Care, Hospital Pharmacy, Workforce, Education & Training, and Extended Services.

Out of nine commitments separately evaluated over these five areas, two were rated as ‘good’, five as ‘requires improvement’ and two were ‘inadequate’.

The full report can be read here.

In line with the experiences of pharmacy owners, the panel found: “Demand for community pharmacy services has increased significantly with community pharmacies struggling to deliver services within the existing funding model, or even to remain open.”

They also said available funding was “not sufficient to keep pharmacies open”, nothing that businesses are struggling financially with increased demand for dispensing, workforce pressures and rising costs due to inflation.

This echoes what Community Pharmacy England has been saying for many months now, in repeated conversations with Ministers, officials and Parliamentarians.

The report also noted the Government’s recent commitment to an economic analysis of NHS pharmaceutical services through an independent review, which Community Pharmacy England has said could be helpful “if completed appropriately”.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, said:

“I am grateful to the Expert Panel for their considered evaluation of current Government commitments related to pharmacy. We are not surprised by the panel’s findings that progress on the majority of commitments required improvement – we have been pressing for this on an ongoing basis.

“We all know that many of the issues that community pharmacies are struggling with relate to insufficient funding of the sector, which has been cut, in real terms, by 30% over the last seven years. An urgent funding uplift and more support is now required for community pharmacies before the consequences are felt by more and more patients across the country.

“This report paves the way for the Health and Social Care Committee’s full inquiry into pharmacy which will be influential, and we are already fully engaged with.”